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Salman Rushdie off ventilator and condition improving, agent says

Aug 14 (Reuters) – Salman Rushdie, the acclaimed author who was simply hospitalized on Friday with serious injuries after being repeatedly stabbed at a public appearance in NY state, is off a ventilator and his condition is improving, his agent and a son said on Sunday.

“He’s off the ventilator, therefore the road to recovery has begun,” his agent, Andrew Wylie, wrote within an email to Reuters. “It’ll be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the proper direction.”

Rushdie, 75, was set to provide a lecture on artistic freedom at Chautauqua Institution in western NY when police say a 24-year-old man rushed the stage and stabbed the Indian-born writer, who has lived with a bounty on his head since his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” prompted Iran to urge Muslims to kill him.

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The suspect, Hadi Matar of Fairview, NJ, pleaded not liable to charges of attempted murder and assault at a court appearance on Saturday, his court-appointed lawyer, Nathaniel Barone, told Reuters.

Following hours of surgery, Rushdie have been placed on a ventilator and was struggling to speak by Friday evening, Wylie said in a prior update on the novelist’s condition, adding he may likely lose a watch and had nerve damage in his arm and wounds to his liver.

Among Rushdie’s sons said his father could say several words after moving away from the ventilator.

“Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant love of life remains intact,” Zafar Rushdie wrote on Twitter.

The stabbing was condemned by writers and politicians all over the world being an assault on freedom of expression. In a statement on Saturday, President Joe Biden commended the “universal ideals” of truth, courage and resilience embodied by Rushdie and his work.

“They are the inspiration of any free and open society,” Biden said.

Neither local nor federal authorities have offered any extra information on the investigation, including a possible motive.

A short law enforcement overview of Matar’s social media marketing accounts showed he was sympathetic to Shi’ite extremism and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), although no definitive links have been found, in accordance with NBC NY.

The IRGC is really a powerful faction that controls a small business empire along with elite armed and intelligence forces that Washington accuses of conducting a global extremist campaign.

Authorities in Iran have made no public comment concerning the attack, although hardline state media outlets have celebrated it with headlines including “Satan has been blinded” plus some Iranians voiced support online for the stabbing.

A great many other Iranians expressed their sympathies for Rushdie, however, posting on social media marketing about their anger at the Islamic Republic’s clerical rulers for issuing the 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, that told Muslims to kill the writer.

BOUNTY WORTH MILLIONS

Rushdie, who was simply born right into a Muslim Kashmiri family in Bombay, now Mumbai, before moving to Britain, has long faced death threats for “The Satanic Verses,” viewed by some Muslims as containing blasphemous passages. The book was banned in lots of countries with large Muslim populations.

Iranian organizations, some from the government, have raised a bounty worth huge amount of money for Rushdie’s murder. The fatwa was issued 33 years back by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran’s supreme leader. His successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said as recently as 2019 that the decree remained “irrevocable.”

Matar was created in California and recently moved to NJ, the NBC NY report said, adding he had a fake license on him. He was arrested at the scene by way of a state trooper after being wrestled to the bottom by audience members.

Witnesses said he didn’t speak as he attacked the writer. Rushdie was stabbed 10 times, prosecutors said during Matar’s arraignment, based on the NY Times.

Prosecutors said in court that Matar traveled by bus to the Chautauqua Institution, an educational retreat about 12 miles (19 km) from the shores of Lake Erie, and bought a pass that admitted him to Rushdie’s talk, the days reported. Attendees said there have been no obvious security checks.

Asked to touch upon the case, Matar’s lawyer Barone said, “We’re sort of in the first stages and, to be honest, in this case, I think the main thing to keep in mind is people have to keep an open mind. They have to look at everything. They can not just assume something happened for why they think something happened.”

Ali Tehfe, mayor of Yaroun in southern Lebanon, said Matar was the son of a guy from the city. The suspect’s parents emigrated to america and he was created and raised there, the mayor added.

Asked whether Matar or his parents were associated with or supported the Iran-backed Hezbollah armed group in Lebanon, Tehfe said he previously “no information at all” on the political views.

A Hezbollah official told Reuters on Saturday that the group had no more information on the attack on Rushdie. read more

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Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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